Healthy Thinking Strategies – CBT and ACT

March 02, 2019

– What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
– What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Your ability to cope with anxiety, stress and depression may be impaired by negative and unhelpful thinking strategies. A psychologist can help you to reduce ongoing mental distress, by challenging your negative thinking strategies and replacing them with healthy thinking strategies.

Two key therapies used by psychologists to achieve healthy thinking strategies are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

CBT is a treatment that can help you understand the relationship between your thoughts, feelings and actions. CBT is based on the principle that your thoughts influence your feelings and actions. For example, if you see a friend walking down the street and they do not greet you, you might think, “They ignored me, perhaps they are upset at me for something” and be angry or upset. Others may think, “They must have been lost in their thoughts, perhaps they are busy at the moment” and are much less likely to be upset.

In CBT, your psychologist’s goal is to teach you to identify your unhelpful thoughts, emotions and behaviours. By gaining insight into the relationship between these processes, you are able to replace unhelpful processes with more helpful ones. Studies show that CBT can be as effective as medication to treat depression and anxiety.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

ACT promotes more positive mental health by encouraging acceptance of your unpleasant thoughts and a focus on your values.

Rather than focusing directly on symptom reduction, ACT aims to change the way you experience distress, by teaching acceptance of that which you cannot control, and reorientate you towards the pursuit of what’s really important in your life (these being your values). Your values are those actions and beliefs that are most important and meaningful to you – when your values are clearly identified, you use that knowledge to guide and motivate you to change your life for the better. Unlike Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, ACT does not focus on directly changing your symptoms, instead, it directs you towards acceptance of your thoughts and feelings and orients you towards worthwhile goals in spite of any challenging experiences.